Digitization of Agriculture: EXPRESS Experimental Field Launched in Saxony

Press Release | Leipzig /

Leipzig, 23.10.2019 - On October 17, 2019, Federal Minister of Agriculture Julia Klöckner handed over the notice of approval for the EXPRESS project. At the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), representatives of the participating research institutes received the funding notice. The aim of the project is to test and promote digital technologies in Saxony's agriculture. The focus is on small and medium-sized enterprises.

In the future, digital technologies could enable farms to further increase their productivity while protecting the environment and biodiversity. In order to test such technologies, EXPRESS (Experimental Field for Data-Driven Networking and Digitization in Agriculture), a regional experimental field was now launched in Saxony, where digital processes are being tested in five use cases. One focus is on plant cultivation and special crops.

The project is carried out by a research association coordinated by the Institute for Information Systems at the University of Leipzig and involving the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW, the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ and the IMMS Institute for Microelectronic and Mechatronic Systems. The agricultural players participating in EXPRESS include Obstland Dürrweitzschen AG and Weingut Schloss Proschwitz Prinz zur Lippe GmbH und Co KG. In the next three years, other agricultural players can join the project. 

EXPRESS focuses on the implementation of new technologies in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Dr. Juliane Welz, research associate in the Professionalizing of Knowledge Transfer Processes unit, which is in the lead for the project at Fraunhofer IMW, comments: "Digitization presents challenges to small and medium-sized agricultural enterprises in particular, which they can hardly meet on their own. With the EXPRESS experimental field, we are offering farmers in Saxony a low-threshold entry into digital processes that is competently supported by the partners in the research association. In this way, we want to promote the exchange between actors in agriculture and create incentives for the implementation of innovative projects in agriculture. To achieve this, Fraunhofer IMW is developing a comprehensive knowledge transfer strategy for the project. This strategy will enable the knowledge gained to be collected centrally and ensures its availability for all relevant actors.

The introduction of new digital technologies in agriculture could, among other things, make it possible to optimize the timing of sowing, fertilization, plant protection and harvesting: "In the future, we want to be able to assess soil moisture and biomass even more accurately by combining drone images with artificial intelligence," says Prof. Dr. Bogdan Franczyk from the Leipzig University. "We work very closely with agricultural enterprises. That is enormously important. For practical solutions we need mutual trust and joint experimentation".


The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) with 2.7 million euros from the title "Digitization in Agriculture" based on a resolution of the German Bundestag. A total of 50 million euros have been earmarked to support experimental fields in agriculture until 2022. The first six of a total of 14 experimental fields have now been launched. In addition to EXPRESS, another field of experimentation in Saxony is being funded with the Land Network project of the Technical University of Dresden. Both experimental fields are part of the simul+InnovationHub, a pillar of the future initiative simul+ of the Saxon State Ministry for Environment and Agriculture.


Your contact persons:

Fraunhofer IMW

Neumarkt 9-19, 04109 Leipzig



Dirk Böttner-Langolf

Phone +49 341 231039-250



Professionalizing Knowledge Transfer Processes

Dr. Juliane Welz

+49 341 231039-162



The Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW looks back on more than twelve years of applied socio-economic research and experience at its Leipzig location. Around 170 employees from 20 countries support customers and partners from business, industry, politics, research and society to benefit from globalization and digitization as a driver for innovation. The benefits of socio-economic and applied research for people, the dynamics of a knowledge-based society and the future of industrial production are the focus of the Institute's international projects, network activities and analyses. The interdisciplinary research team provides scientifically sound support to companies, organisations, institutions, countries, municipalities and regions in strategic decision-making processes. Originally founded as the Fraunhofer Center for Central and Eastern Europe MOEZ in 2006, the content and strategic realignment of the institute, which is certified according to DIN EN ISO 9001:2015 DNV-GL, has been reflected in the new name Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW since 2016. The institute's competencies are innovation research, knowledge and technology transfer and corporate development in international competition. https://www.imw.fraunhofer.de/en.html


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